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Young Israel of Plainview

Parshat Devarim
The Prophecy Project - Shabbat Chazon Isaiah's opening chapter offers the harshest of criticisms to the Jewish people: "who sought this from your hand to trample in my courtyards?" (1:12). Essentially, God declares that He no longer desires sacrifice or prayer; He detests the Israelites attempts to bribe Him with prayer and sacrifice while their hands are filled with blood (1:15). Some commentators wonder about God's position. Why not accept the offerings and prayers as the first step to repentance? They answer that the base level of religious commitment is ethical. What caused God to seek a covenant with Abraham was his commitment to Ethical Monotheism; sacrifice and prayer came second. Ritual exists to reinforce ethical and moral actions. The Jewish people mistakenly believed that Temple rituals were God's primary request. To this He responds: "Zion will be redeemed through justice and those who return to her through charity." (1:27). While prayer is significant, it can only be a second stage after menschlichkeit. Tish'a B'av Jeremiah 8-9 offers the prophet's vision of the destroyed Jerusalem with the Israelite's calling to God who will not answer. "See, the sound of the daughter of my people crying from a distant land is the Lord not in Zion, is its king not in it?" Rashi explains that this is actually an accusation of the Jewish people - "all this time God was right there in Jerusalem and now when you call to Him from exile He is distant." Radak, however, explains that the verse expresses the awe and surprise of the people when witnessing the encroaching enemy: "How could they overtake Zion, when God is her king?" God responds that the idolatrous failures of the people have removed His protections. The two interpretations capture competing themes of the approaching fast. Radak's comments capture our sense of rejection and distance from God; why has He forsaken us. Rashi's comment, alternatively, captures God's (as it were) feelings of betrayal why have you forsaken Me?